With the massive increase in net migration figures, the UK Home Secretary has proposed drastic measures in order to decrease the number of people coming into the UK.


UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has announced a new five-point plan to curb the increasing migration figures. While these changes must still be voted in, there is little doubt that they will come to fruition.

Net migration has been a big issue for the UK government. The figures for 2022 came in at a startling 745,000, significantly higher than May’s reported figure of 606,000. The UK government is unhappy with this figure, with PM Rishi Sunak stating, “I’m very clear that the levels of migration are too high – I’ve been clear about that.”

Cleverly’s proposed changes include:

  • Banning care workers who apply under the Health and Care Work visa from bringing family dependants to the UK
  • Ending companies being able to pay workers 20% less than the going rate for jobs on a shortage occupation list
  • Increasing the IHS (immigration health surcharge) – the  annual charge foreign workers pay to use the NHS – from £624 to £1,035
  • Raising the minimum income for family visas from £18,600 to £38,700 from next spring
  • Reviewing the Graduate visa route to "prevent abuse"
  • Skilled Worker salary thresholds will be increased from £26,200 to £38,700.

On 4 October 2023, there was also an increase in UK visa fees. Headline fees increased by 15%, family visa, settlement and citizenship fees by 20%, and Student visa fees by 35%. These fee increases will provide another hurdle for those wanting to immigrate to the UK.

It is worth noting that in 2022 more people came to the UK than those who left. The figure for the 12 months to June 2023 show a slight decrease in net migration at 672,000 with arrivals at 1.2 million.

These net migration figures were made up of mainly students and workers. 

The rise in workers was expected as the Skilled Worker visa category has been amended to make it easier for employers to recruit international workers. Changes included the removal of the Resident Labour Market Test, and the suspension of the cap on work visas.

These changes were made right after the UK left the European Union to remedy the resultant shortage of skilled workers in the UK and seems to have had a major impact on net migration to the UK.

The home secretary told MPs the changes would take effect in the spring next year if the vote went through.

Not everyone is welcoming of these changes though. Unison General Secretary Christina McAnea said the "cruel plans spell total disaster for the NHS and social care".

"Migrant workers were encouraged to come here because both sectors are critically short of staff. Hospitals and care homes simply couldn't function without them," she said.

Mr Cleverly acknowledged some care workers might be deterred from coming to the UK because they would not be able to bring families under the new rules. But he said that he believed there would still be care workers who would be willing to work in the UK.

With all these changes coming up, it would be best to get your applications in before the IHS fee increase, and the higher requirements come into effect.

If you are interested in applying for a UK visa, please get in contact with one of our experienced immigration consultants who will help you every step of the way. Get in touch with us at immigration@sableinternational.com or call on +27 (0) 21 657 2180 or +44 (0) 20 7759 5330.

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